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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Needless Review

Promotional art for Needless, featuring Adam Blade, Eve Neuschwanstein, and Cruz Schild.


 "When the power of love overcomes the love for power, the world will know peace." ~Jimi Hendrix
 During World War III, Japan was subjected to the combined power of WMDs launched from many countries around the world. Each blast area was decimated, leaving massive craters known as "black spots." These areas, enclosed by massive walls, were contaminated by massive amounts of radiation from the fallout of these weapons.

Needless breaks the fourth wall. A lot.
Over a century later, the people who survived in these barren wastelands developed powers exceeding the capabilities of normal humans. Named the "Needless," they were unwanted from society and outcasted; normal humans feared their overwhelming strength. The pharmaceutical company Simeon set up its main building at the center of one of these black spots, intent on taking the territory for themselves. Lead by a self-proclaimed god (called so due to his daunting power), Adam Arclight, he commands a powerful force of Needless hunters which carry out his bidding. The story chronicles the adventures of a stubborn, candid priest, a forgetful, shapeshifting woman, and "the rest" as they engage in battle royale with Arclight's goons at his headquarters.


The story is that of a typical shounen format: plenty of fights, talking in said fights, revelations with little lead in, etc. This aspect doesn't work against Needless; in fact, it's quite the opposite. It's mockery of overused shounen tropes and cliches make the show absolutely enthralling. Time after time, I found myself laughing as they constantly interrupted their fights with long monologues, some perhaps telling their entire life story in an episode before landing the critical hit everyone was waiting for. Needless to say, this anime parodies the genre, and does it well. While the show gets more serious as it continues, it never fully gets out of this mode. The feeling it gives you is similar to that of another Madhouse anime: Trigun. It is also arguable that the show is much like Kill la Kill (Simeon's 4 strongest = 4 Three Star Gokus, cocky antagonist and protagonist, neither show really takes itself seriously, etc.). The story did have its moments, mainly some mild feels and whatnot, but for the most part, Needless is just a shounen, and that works just fine.

There's only one problem in the story: the ending was rushed to hell. It wasn't terrible, but suddenly, a plethora of new developments suddenly show up in a conclusion original to the anime, and occasionally, large time skips were used. This is typical of Madhouse; they sure do love to end their shows in a hurry. However, such an ending doesn't feel out of place due to the nature of Needless. Since it's always making fun of the shounen genre, the ending can seem like it makes fun of the biggest problem plaguing the genre. I took the ending as their last attempt to poke fun at the genre rather than a pacing problem.

"Real men don't act like faggots!" ~Eve Neuschwanstein
Does this count as a trap?
It doesn't seem like characters get much development (especially from something so story driven). In retrospect, this isn't necessarily true. I realized that the only person to get real character development received quite a bit, despite being outshined by the rest of the cast. That character was Cruz Schild (AKA Yamada), a regular human and denizen of the black spot. He starts out as a pessimistic wimp that flees the battle as the Resistance forces were getting wiped out. With no powers that he can use himself (being highly reliant on his sister's strength), he became the true needless in the black spot. Seemingly unable to assist in combat, he would sit in a corner, praying for the mercy of his enemies whenever the situation looked grim. Despite this, he always ends up alive time and time again, thanks to the powers of his friends. He contributes to the group as a strategist; with his keen observation skills and remarkable intellect, he functions as a catalyst for teamwork and forms the bonds between members of his party. Through this, he finds his purpose, and with an unstoppable team, discovers a new sense of confidence made possible through their combined efforts. He is finally able to become independent of his sister and contribute his own power to the group.

That's really it in the character development department. The rest of the characterization happens via flashback, and there's large gaps from then and now (that's all part of the parody though). I never expected development of any kind in Needless, so it adds icing onto the cake.

I'm sure you can guess what kind of themes were present in the anime. they primarily revolved around the idea of being needless. Unwanted, they are often set aside by the world, unable to do anything. Again, it's another nice, serious touch to an anime that lacks seriousness.
Adam and Eve are two of the most wacky characters.
The humor in Needless is on point. Their range of jokes range from stupid antics to unnecessary fanservice, witty satire to character quirks, even running gags frequented the show. I was never bored with Needless; it was always delivering something, much of it being laughs. One of the recurring jokes in the anime involved Professor Gido, where, in the next episode preview, they would often try portending his death rather bluntly. No matter how many times I saw it, it never grew old.

"We are gonna make bubbles come out of your ass!" ~Adam Blade
The art is similar to that of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. There is little to no CGI used in the anime, despite airing in 2009. The quality takes dips every now and then; the style changes occasionally, but is generally decent. I do appreciate the throwback feeling the art gives you. It's a rarity to find such an art style in anime today (well, it WAS made in 2009, but even I haven't seen shows from then that look quite like this).

The OST was hit and miss to me. I didn't particularly care for either of the 2 ED songs. They were reminiscent of songs you'd hear in some moeblob shows. OP 2 was just OK to me. However, OP 1 was a pretty great rock number. The BGM was pretty similar to the first intro song, balancing this OST.


This was honestly some of the most fun I've had watching an anime in a while. Other similar titles have swept Needless under the carpet. That's certainly unfortunate, as Needless delivers in terms of both comedy and action. It managed to surprise me with some nice, serious touches here and there that make it exceptional even amongst my library of shows. I've been getting pretty bored of anime recently, so I suppose you could say that this reviewer certainly needed Needless.

Narrative: 5.80/10 (x2)
Characters: 6.20/10 (x2)
Aesthetics: 7.00/10 (x1)
Execution: 9.00/10 (x2)
Value: 8.00/10 (x3)

Composite: 7.30/10 (86.50% B) -- "I need more."

Similar Titles:
  • Trigun
  • Senyuu
  • Kill la Kill